The Sacred Summits, Mt. Olympus to Meteora, Greece

Trekking Hellas S.A.
7 Filellinon Str., 10557 Athens
Tel: +30.210.3310323
Fax: +30.210.3234548

The two most famous and impressive mountain landscapes of Greece in a single trek.
The Greek Gods made their home on Olympus. Not only the highest mountain in the country, Greece’s oldest and most carefully protected national park, also boasts the greatest concentration of flora and fauna, huge expanses of forest and the crystal clear waters of the Enippeas river. Above it all, soars the 2911m peak of Skolio (2nd highest peak) from where we, like Zeus, can survey the world. The dramatic rocky pinnacles of Meteora with their thriving cliff top monasteries are a sight to behold. One marvels at the audacity of the monks who first dared to perch simple shelters on the tiny summits. Nowadays the monasteries are much grander, but we take the privilege of reaching them via windy rocky paths among the rocky "chaos".

Mt. Olympus is the most famous mountain in Greece; it’s highest at 2917m and of course mythical home of the ancient Greek Gods. From its steep rocky summit, first climbed only 100 years ago, Zeus supposedly hurled his thunderbolts against humankind. Its eastern flanks were the country's first national park (created in the 1930's), with dozens of endemic species of flower as well as some endangered bird and butterfly species; there are no roads within it apart from the trailhead access road. There is also no habitation apart from the two-staffed refuges, which bring together groups of mountaineers from across the globe in their cosy and homely atmosphere. The mountain's watershed divides the regions of Thessaly (south) and Macedonia (north); to the east is the Aegean Sea, which brings in the afternoon/evening mist so characteristic of this mountain.

Flora and Fauna
Wild flowers abound. Throughout the summer the forest paths are studded with (among other species) gentians, tulips, fritillaries and lilies (including Heldreich's l.), supplemented by orchids in the early summer trips. In the alpine zone we see pansies, saxifrage, columbine, bell-flowers (campanula), and (a rare treat) the endemic jankaea heldreichii. Yellow Spanish Broom is common on low ground. Wild herbs (oregano, basil, sage "tea") scent the hillsides throughout the year. We may also find wild strawberries in June and July.

The forests mostly consist of fir (incl. Cephalonian f.) and pine (incl. black p.), with colourful stands of beech too. At lower levels (Voidomatis and Enippeas river banks) there are dense low woods, with the usual mixture of kermes oak, judas trees, arbutus and plane trees. The mountain also harbours some elusive Balkan chamois. At lower altitudes various forest mammals (squirrels, martens, etc.) may be spotted.

Whereas sighting a mammal may prove a frustrating pastime, bird watching has much more obvious rewards. Of the many birds of prey, Egyptian and griffon vultures, golden eagles, Peregrine and other falcons and various buzzards are found, while the magnificent Lammergeyer (or Bearded Vulture) with its 3-metre wingspan may be spotted with luck. In the forests, woodpeckers abound, including the rare Black Woodpecker; the Alpine zones also boast a wide variety of avifauna - highlights here are the rock partridge and elusive wall creeper. Lower down, warblers, shrikes, buntings and thrushes are common.

Day 1
Arrival in Athens. Meet at the airport with your English speaking Trekking Hellas guide. There is one major transfer from the newly built airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" to the hotel, which is conveniently located in the heart of Athens. Settle to the hotel. In the evening meet with your guide for a short walking tour of Athens and enjoy dinner in a traditional Greek tavern in the old part of Athens, in Plaka.

Day 2
From Athens travel to Litochoro and walk to refuge A (Athens-Litochoro 387km, approximately 6 hours drive. Estimated walking time 3.5 hours). After breakfast, depart for your drive to Litochoro. Lunch in a taverna on the way. Early in the afternoon, transfer to Litochoro, and then Prionia from where we begin our walk, at an altitude of 1.000 metres, we walk through shady beech and fir forests, where we should see a variety of woodland birds and flowers. We continue our way up to 2.100m alt. and reach the refuge.

Day 3
Peak ascents (Estimated Walking Time 4- 6 hours). We take a path going up the cliffs and we reach first Skala at 2.882 meters and then Skolio at 2.911 meters. From here we make the optional side-trip to Mytikas (2.917 meters), Greece’s highest peak! N.B. This involves some scrambling on a well-defined route. We then go back to the refuge (4-6 hours).

Day 4
Plateau of the Muses – Refuge B (3-4 hours). We leave the refuge after breakfast towards the Plateau of the Muses, and on to the second refuge at 2,700 m. The dramatic peak of Stefani, the throne of Zeus, dominates the plateau.

Day 5
Walk through Enippeas gorge to Litochoro (6-7 hours). After an initial steepish descent, we enter the Enippeas gorge, passing a cave-chapel and the monastery of St. Dionysus, as well as taking advantage of several swimming opportunities en route in river pools. After about seven hours walking, the gorge opens up on the outskirts of Litohoro.

Day 6
Travel to Meteora. Transfer from Litohoro to Kalambaka in the nearby village of Kastraki. (Litochoro-Kastraki 151 km, approximately 2,5 hours drive).

Day 7
Walk and monastery visit. Walk around western Meteora, following the same old paths the monks used to use, which wind their way amongst the tall rock-towers. These paths go up to the rocks and take us to the cliff top monasteries, the high places of the Greek-orthodox spirituality. We will have enough time to visit two of the most important ones: the Megalo Meteoro, and the Varlaam.

Day 8
Return to Athens. After breakfast, we drive back to Athens. (Kastraki-Athens 350 km, approximately 5,5 hours drive).

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the tour leader, according to local and weather conditions.

Land Cost per Person

Price Includes:
8 days/7 nights, accommodation in double rooms in B/B basis in hotels and/or guesthouses, Trekking Hellas English-French speaking guide, full board as mentioned in the program (light lunches during the activities, lunch in a tavern on first and last day, dinners in taverns), transfer from/to Athens on first and last day, all local transfers in the program, entrance fees to the two monasteries, trekking activities as mentioned in the program.

Not Included:
Personal expenses, drinks, optional gratuities to leader, guides and local staff.

2005 Dates

Activity Level
Grade 2-3: In Mt. Olympus we walk 5-6 hours per day, we mostly follow good forest paths. Above the treeline, the terrain varies from grassy uplands to rocky ridges, with some easy scrambling required for the peak ascents. In Meteora we walk 4-5 hours per day on paths on rocky terrain.

Climate and Clothing
Weather on Olympus can change rapidly and we need to be prepared for a variety of conditions. It is typically hot and sunny: T-shirt & shorts weather. However, there is a fair chance of cloud, wind and even storms around the peaks. A waterproof and windproof jacket is essential. The evenings are often cold so bring light thermals for insulation or other warm clothing.

Please try to travel as lightly as possible; remember that you must carry everything you bring on all the three days' walk. Luggage not needed on the trek can be left at the hotel in Athens or at our office in Athens.

We travel from Athens to the mainland by private A/C mini bus or bus (depending the size of the group). The trip starts and ends in Athens. Our baggage travels by bus. The trip starts and ends in Athens. There is one major transfer on the first day arranged to fit the majority of the clients, therefore clients are requested to book a flight that will arrive in Athens airport no later than 16:00 o’clock. It usually takes about 40-50 minutes to clear Customs and collect the luggage. Trekking Hellas guide will be waiting for you, outside the exit of your gate. Your guide will be holding a "TREKKING HELLAS" sign and wear a "TREKKING HELLAS" T-shirt. If you arrive earlier than the others you will be asked to wait at the airport and will be given directions from your guide on the spot.

Leadership and Group Size
Your tour leader will be with you throughout the trip to guide you along the route, help organise and interpret in the villages and assist the group in any other way possible. Our leaders are fluent in English and Greek as well as often-another language, and have walked in the area before. They will try and give you a real insight into the local way of life and, for those interested, will happily give some basic Greek lessons while walking or over evening drinks. Although not specialists, they are interested in the area's flora and fauna and usually carry field guides. They always have maps and a compass. We expect to run this trip with a group of 4-16 participants.

Our Other Trips:
We offer a variety of trekking, rock climbing, canyoning, caving, horse riding, mountain biking and other outside adventure trips throughout Greece. Contact us for more information.

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